From the public to leadership, SF pays tribute to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, city's 1st woman mayor

ByCornell Barnard, Tim Johns KGO logo
Saturday, September 30, 2023
From the public to leadership, SF pays tribute to Dianne Feinstein
From the public to leadership, San Francisco paid tribute to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the city's first woman mayor.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Senator Dianne Feinstein's career in politics began at San Francisco City Hall, the scene of triumph and tragedy. On Friday, city leaders and the public paid respects and reflected on her long political legacy.

Feinstein's Senate office staff on Friday morning confirmed the death of the trailblazing politician, who along with being the longest-serving woman senator in U.S. history was San Francisco's first woman mayor and first woman president of the city's Board of Supervisors.

"Dianne Feinstein was a badass in San Francisco -- that's it," said Diana Vandaveer.

Diana Vandaveer from San Francisco was speaking her mind about a woman she respected.

RELATED: 'True trailblazer': Biden, Pelosi, fellow senators, political leaders honor Sen. Feinstein's legacy

"She kicked doors open for my tax bracket even though she wasn't in it," Vandaveer said.

Vandaveer and others came to City Hall to sign a public condolence book for Senator Feinstein, who passed away Friday at age 90.

Tania Chacon wrote a message about meeting Feinstein as a little girl and how it inspired her to be a strong woman in her community.

"As a woman of leadership, she paved the way for so many women and here at City Hall now, I think about that legacy," said Chacon.

RELATED: Senator Dianne Feinstein, an 'icon for women in politics,' dies at 90

Senator Dianne Feinstein has died, her office has confirmed. The former mayor of San Francisco is remembered as "a legend" and an "icon for women in politics."

People have been leaving flowers at a statue of Feinstein inside City Hall.

"You can't think of San Francisco without thinking of Dianne Feinstein," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

Breed paid tribute to her predecessor, the first woman to lead the city at a dark time, following the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

"She worked hard for the city. She was a beacon of hope and inspiration during a dark time, which cemented her legacy as a leader for the city and country," Breed said.

RELATED: 'Murder at City Hall: The killing of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk' | Full video

The ABC7 Originals documentary, "Murder at City Hall: The Killing of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk," tells the story like never before.

Breed says Feinstein was instrumental in saving San Francisco's aging Cable Cars by raising public and private funds to save the municipal railway. She also helped build Pier 39 in the late 70s, now one of the city's top tourist attractions.

"Dianne was the kind of mayor who would show up at fire scenes in the middle of the night. There was no part of government she didn't have her thumb print on," said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

Supervisor Matt Dorsey says Feinstein was a champion for the LGBTQ community during the AIDS crisis.

"At a time when the Reagan Administration wouldn't say the word 'AIDS,' Feinstein lead the nation with funding for AIDS and HIV care. San Francisco's funding was bigger here than the federal government's," Dorsey said.

VIDEO: Former SF Mayor Willie Brown reflects on legacy Sen. Dianne Feinstein leaves behind after death

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown talked about Senator Dianne Feinstein's legacy Friday in the wake of her death.

Former Mayor Willie Brown believes Feinstein's greatest achievements was the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, signed into law in 1994 but expired in 2004. Brown dismisses Feinstein critics who called for her to step aside due to age and declining health.

"The fact she was able to convince her Republican colleagues to embrace the idea of a weapons ban, those are the kinds of things she'll be remembered for -- not for being old and feeble," Brown said.

Beyond being a trailblazer for women in politics, those who knew her say Feinstein was also a leader for Jewish Americans.

"She would talk about how much she cared for her Jewish identity, how much she cared about this synagogue and being a proud member of it," said Rabbi Jonathan Singer, Congregation Emanu-El. "She would attend for the high holidays and other services, and have life cycle events here for her family."

Beyond being a trailblazer for women in politics, those who knew her say Feinstein was also a leader for Jewish Americans.

Feinstein was a member of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.

Outside of the temple Friday evening, several people took time to tell us how much she'll be missed there.

One mourner described Feinstein as cherished and irreplaceable part of the community.

"I came in here to say Kaddish, I came to say Kaddish, and probably I would expect a lot of people will be here to say Kaddish for her."

Back at City Hall - for Vandaveer, it was a day to pay respects and say goodbye.

"Thank you, Dianne Feinstein, I'm truly grateful," Vandaveer said.

Flags at San Francisco City Hall and other city buildings will be lowered to half-staff from Friday through Sunday in honor of Feinstein.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live